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17 ‘black lives matter’ protesters arrested in Hartford for blocking traffic

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HARTFORD--A major protest occurred in downtown Hartford on Monday afternoon, near the Founders Bridge in Old Statehouse Square.

In all, 17 were arrested--eight women and nine men--for disorderly conduct, according to Hartford Police Chief James Rovella. One of those arrested was the organizer of the event, Bishop John Selders. Bond was set at $5,000 for all who were arrested.

Dozens gathered and held hands in the street, blocking traffic. People in the crowd were chanting "black lives matter" and "hands up, don't shoot," two mottoes that have become commonplace at protests nationwide since the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last summer.

The protesters who were arrested were given numerous warnings by police for the crowd to disperse. Those who were arrested were patted down before being put in a transport van together.

Chief Rovella spoke to Fox CT about the protest. He said that he respects the protesters, and their First Amendment rights, and he thinks they accomplished what they wanted to by blocking traffic.

"They admittedly say they are not ready to come to the table and actually talk about problem solving, which I understand," Rovella said. He also said that it was nonviolent, but the arrests were made because they blocked traffic.

Rovella also mentioned that he thought the entire situation was dealt with appropriately; the protesters agreed to be arrested, and they were orderly as they were arrested.

The protest, called the Moral Monday CT Black Lives Matter Rally, was held by Bishop John Selders of the Amistad United Church of Christ, who was also one of the 17 who were arrested. Here is a message emailed to Fox CT about the event:

Faith leaders and social justice activists from across Connecticut have been in conversation. We’ve decided to do more about the assault on black lives — and be very public about it. We held our first Moral Monday event on, February 23d, 2015, in Hartford.  The next event will take place on June 2nd.

As many of you may know, the Moral Monday grassroots movement of North Carolina, led by The Rev. William Barber and others, has been for over a year gathering and protesting wide-ranging issues under the blanket of unfair treatment and discrimination.

We are asking faith leaders, lay and clergy along with social justice- minded folk across Connecticut, to converge on downtown Hartford to let our voices be seen and heard. We will gather at 3:00 p.m. June 8th, Christ Church Cathedral, 45 Church Street, Hartford, for a time of witnessing and then we will go to the streets for a time of public demonstrating.

Here are a list of those who were arrested at the protest:

  • Alan L. Benford, 54, of Manchester
  • Anthony L. Bennett, 49, of Bridgeport
  • Sofia W. Buyniski, 59, of Colchester
  • Jan M. Carlsson-Bull, 72, of Middletown
  • Debra Cohen, 63, of Wethersfield
  • Christopher J. Doucot, 47, of Hartford
  • Vanessa Gonzalez, 40, of West Hartford
  • Brian M. Kavanagh, 71, of Hartford
  • Cornell Lewis, 65, of Bloomfield
  • Robin McHaelen, 60, of Manchester
  • Matthew B. Mclaughlin, 30, of Hartford
  • Jessica Offir, 50, of Coventry
  • Joshua M. Paweler, 46, of Glastonbury
  • John L. Selders, 52, of Hartford
  • Angela Swagner, 64, of Kensington
  • Oshun-Anna M. Vicente, 46, of Hartford
  • Michael T. Walton, 39, of Bridgeport
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